Like it or not, Americans need Al-Jazeera
The recent explosion of democracy-flavored protests across the Middle East has been cause for pause over the last several weeks. As media outlets worldwide fight for the most in-depth coverage of the movements in Tunisia, or more recently, Egypt, an interesting question about media coverage is being posed.
Al-Jazeera, the de facto news organization of the Middle East and one of the largest news providers in the world, is almost non-existent in the United States. Their coverage of the Egyptian unrest, sparking assault on their offices from the chronically violent thugs of Mubarak, has been unprecedented.
The insight of Al-Jazeera as the finest source of news for Middle Eastern affairs is often overlooked in the States. Because we fancy ourselves news providers, The Journal cannot help but wonder why such information is not regularly provided by any major cable and satellite providers here at home.
Most major providers do not carry the channel at all. Those that do generally require a special request to have the channel, and an additional fee. For years, victims of Islamophobia in the U.S. have decried the addition of Al-Jazeera as a terrorist organization, one that incites violence against the U.S.. and promotes terrorism around the world.
It’s not true, of course. Those confusing Al-Jazeera with Al-Qaeda are hard-pressed to find any actual evidence of AJ engaging in any such behavior. No doubt, the sympathies of the network would be called into question, what with them being all Muslim-y.
AJ has featured messages from Osama Bin Laden, when he crawls from his cave long enough to release another irrelevant tape. But as the preeminent news organization of the region, what else can viewers expect?
What duty would AJ be serving if they did not attempt to portray the Middle Eastern world as accurately and fairly as possible? Our own mental image of Muslims might be tarnished, but at least the facts are straight.
American news organizations are prone to flaws as it is. Many Americans have welcomed BBC programs (news being the most respected among them) as a willing substitute for international news.
The Middle East is arguably the most important region in the world when it comes to the day-to-day lives of American citizens. The region accounts overwhelmingly for our foreign policy decisions and defense budget. The Journal can’t help but think that our cable providers, media conglomerates are deliberately handicapping the people by refusing to let one of the finest news sources in the world into our homes.
Understanding the complex nature of the world, and our own role in it, is essential to the success and prosperity of a global citizen. Without allowing new resources to support our own international growth and understanding, grim future does the American news cycle have?